This past Saturday, I was in Fresno, California to visit the Fresno Chaffee Zoo located in Roeding Park.
The zoo covers 39 acres and houses over 190 species and brings in an attendance of 700,000 people (as of 2014).
I was told that the zoo has changed a lot and the animals look much healthier, the zoo is packed and for the most part, that’s all you can hope for when visiting a zoo and having many species that people, especially the children can enjoy seeing.
The last time I went to Fresno Chaffee Zoo, I recall the weather being too hot and also not having the right kind of lens and a lot of the locations with cages or nets. So, I decided to utilize my Sigma 100-500 lens and surprisingly, many people came up to me to ask if I was shooting for a contest or how much I spent on my equipment.
Realized I was the only person at the zoo carrying a huge lens. But I’m glad I did, in order to get shots of many animals that were quite a distance away.
The zoo in Fresno was formed back in 1908 and was originally a zoo of largely unwanted pets donated by Sezer Tamcakir. But the zoo would then bring in other species and an amphitheater would be built at the location. But the Assocation of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) recognized the zoo in 1929 as the Roeding Park zoo.
The zoo would have 100 animals and birds by 1947 and would bring in Eldon “Curly” Blocker from the San Diego Zoo and the location would acquire an Asian elephant known as “Nosey” and by the 1950’s, would have ten large exhibits with monkeys, sea lions, camels, giraffes and more.
In 1965, the zoo would hire its first director and veterinarian, Paul Chaffee and the zoo would bring in climate control and also re-evaluate nutritional programs to extend the lifespans of animals.
In 1990, after the death of Paul S. Chaffee, the Frezno Zoo was renamed Chaffee Zoological Gardens and shortened to “Fresno Chaffee Zoo” in 2006.
The zoo would add “Stingray Bay” in 2007, a rainforest exhibit in 2009, Sea Lion Cove in 2012 that features a 250,000 gallon saltwater tank.
In 2013, the location would open a King Cobra Exhibit and also feature a Komodo dragon and other reptile. In October 2015, the zoo opened the first phase of their planned African Adventure which is 18-acres and would feature lions, breeding elephants, cheetahs, rhinos, meerkats, hippos, gorillas and penguins.
And from what I saw, the zoo looks fantastic. Definitely an improvement from what I saw a decade ago and glad to see Fresno have a growing, (VERY) well-attended zoo but most of all, seeing the animals healthy and seeing animal caretakers that really are passionate and take care of the animals.
I look forward going to Fresno Chaffee Zoo again in the near future.